A Visit With Dr. Catherine Ponder about Walter Starcke
A Visit With Dr. Catherine Ponder about Walter Starcke
I first heard of the illustrious Starcke family of San Antonio, Texas from my good friend and co-worker at both Unity of Austin and, later, Unity Church of San Antonio, Fred Hangar. Fred was still an attorney practicing in San Antonio, and he knew everybody who was anybody.
When Walter Starcke's book, The Double Thread, was first published, Fred suggested we invite him to speak for Unity of Austin, which he graciously did in the late 1960s. After Dr. Hangar and I co-founded Unity Church of San Antonio, in the early 1970s, Fred again suggested that we invite Walter Starcke to speak to that group on The Double Thread. Everyone in San Antonio was so proud of Walter, because, in their estimation, he was a hometown boy who had made good.
He had a varied, almost glamorous background: he had been born in San Antonio, attended college there, then served as a Naval officer during World War II, and later worked with some of the biggest names on the Broadway stage, before going to Florida as a businessman. In later years he returned to his beloved San Antonio, and for some time has had a retreat ranch nearby, where some New Thought seminars and many Fortune 500 business-type seminars have been/are conducted.
Early in his career, Walter became a student of Joel Goldsmith and traveled and studied with him for 18 years until Goldsmith's transition thus learning how to practice meditation, with good results, on a daily basis. After years of quietly developing his ranch and attending to his own spiritual growth, Starcke has again begun to write and lecture throughout the New Thought movement and elsewhere. His latest book is entitled It's All God. Excerpts have appeared in both Unity and Science of Mind magazines, and elsewhere. In that book he advises, "If it isn't loving, don't do it"—simple, compassionate advice from a modern mystic.
However, although his resume obviously indicates he is among the Who's Who of the New Thought movement, my own impression of "Walta," as his mother used to call him, go somewhat deeper. As impressive as his many accomplishments are in so many varied fields of endeavor, there are several things about Walter Starcke that stand out in my mind:
First, (forgive me, "Walta" for saying this, but it's true): There's nothing dull about Walter Starcke. The man has an opinion about everything, especially of a metaphysical nature. And he can back up his rather perceptive view with strong metaphysics, chapter and verse.
Second, he has an infectious enthusiasm on the lecture platform that grabs your attention and keeps it riveted to his subject—whether you agree with him or not. It makes you feel good just to see how enthusiastic he is on the subject of New Thought. Third, but from a more personal viewpoint, the thing that has impressed me the most about Walter Starcke was not his professional persona—impressive though it be—but his personal one, going back 30 years.
Soon after Fred Hangar and I co-founded Unity Church of San Antonio, I assume Dr. Hangar invited Walter's mother, Juanita Starcke, a longtime Hangar friend, to attend. Being the gracious socialite that she was, she obliged. From time to time, she not only attended church services, but she also took the trouble to hold charming little luncheons in her home for some of our church members. On occasion I was in attendance and enjoyed seeing and hearing her speak of how proud she was of her beloved son, "Walta." Being a mother myself with an only son, I especially admired her appreciation of her son.
But what impressed me even more was the kind, thoughtful way that Walter treated his mother. He did everything humanly possible to make her life comfortable and enjoyable. His father, a physician, had passed on when Walter was only nine years of age. Yet Walter cared not who knew that he was close to his mother and that he enjoyed their relationship. None of this macho business of someone thinking he was a Mama's boy for Walter. You could take it or leave it, but his mother was one of his favorite people.
Any mother with a son would appreciate the attitude he so openly exhibited to one and all. Whether from genetics, upbringing, his study of New Thought, or a combination of all of the above, Walter took especially good care of his mother.
The day came, after Walter had just taken his mother on a trip around the world, when his mother passed on rather suddenly. With Dr. and Mrs. Hanger, I attended the memorial service. Although, as a minister, I was a professional funeral attendee, I had never seen such an outpouring of loving grief by so many people for that gentle lady. I thought, "Oh to be so loved. How unique. How unusual. How wonderful."
Now, almost 30 years later, after re-connecting with him at INTA Congresses, that is still the one single impression of him that surpasses all of his other illustrious accomplishments.
It's one thing to study New Thought. It's another to teach New Thought. It's still another to write about it. I've done all that. But I shall always appreciate Walter Starcke for the varied, endearing ways he honored his mother. What greater tribute to our study of New Thought could there be then that?
(Excerpt from New Thought Magazine - Winter 2003)
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